This Day in History: January 27

On this day in 1785, the Georgia General Assembly incorporated the first state-funded institution of higher education in the newly independent United States.

The prior year, the assembly had set aside 40,000 acres from which they aimed to earn the money to endow the institution. In 1786, Yale University alumnus Abraham Baldwin was chosen as president, and the school's charter was hammered out.

In 1801, John Milledge, future governor of Georgia, donated over 600 acres along the Oconee River (in present-day Athens) to serve as the site of the new university. Three years later, the school graduated the first class.

The new institution's first name was Franklin College, in homage to Benjamin Franklin, and modeled its architecture and pedagogy after that of Yale University.

Now known as The University of Georgia, its shift from religious tolerance to gender equity and racial integration was a gradual one.

It wouldn't admit women until 1918, the same year President Woodrow Wilson threw his support behind a constitutional amendment guaranteeing women the right to vote. The university admitted its first African-American students -- Hamilton Holmes and Charlayne Hunter -- in 1961 following a drawn-out legal case.

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